McDermott calls for quick return to play-off form
Saturday 15 August 2009
Two clubs still harbouring play-off ambitions have what could be their best chance of forcing their way into the top eight today.
Harlequins lost the second of their two consecutive games against Bradford last weekend, going down 42-18 to the Bulls at home.
Their coach, Brian McDermott, told them they would not deserve to make the play-offs on that sort of form, so he will be looking for a major improvement against Salford at the Stoop this afternoon. His side looks stronger for the return of Tony Clubb after suspension, but Danny Orr is out injured.
The Salford coach, Shaun McRae, includes Richie Myler in his squad after leaving him out – rested, dropped or whatever – against the Catalan Dragons last week.
It is rugby league's worst-kept secret that Myler is on his way to Warrington next season and McRae felt he needed a break. If Salford are to have a morale-lifting end to the season, however, they need Myler on the field in the sort of form he showed earlier this year.
They will be without their Australian prop Craig Stapleton today after he was suspended for one match this week for his sending off for using foul and abusive language to the referee after the final hooter in the Catalans match.
The Dragons themselves are in 10th place in the table, behind Quins on points difference. They too have a job that should not be beyond them in a game against Hull today that is being played in Beziers, rather than their usual base in Perpignan.
The Catalans have two of their potential match-winners back – Greg Bird from suspension and Clint Greenshields. The equally influential Thomas Bosc is missing with a rare injury, however.
Hull have a mathematical chance of making the top eight, but no more than that. Their chronic injury problems have continued, with Motu Tony ruled out for the season and Richard Horne unlikely to play again this year.
There is a return, though, for Tom Briscoe, a teenaged winger useful enough to gain selection for England's elite training squad, but kept out of action for most of this season by a knee injury.
The veteran forward Steve Menzies has signed on for another season at Bradford, who are at Cup-finalists Huddersfield tomorrow night.
St Helens, the side they beat in last weekend's memorable semi-final, face the difficult task of regrouping at Hull KR.
Wakefield should consolidate their play-off place at home to bottom-placed Celtic Crusaders.
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